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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Friday-Sunday, June 29-July 1, 2007


Bush on Health Care

The above picture actually comes from the health care page on whitehouse.gov. I assume its purpose is to show how concerned he is about health care in our nation. Notice the concerned, stern face he presents as he stares at the x-rays, for example. Why, one wonders how long it took before he ceased making xylophone jokes and stopped calling the x-ray "Slim".

And how many shots did they take before they were able to get the goofy look off his face anyway?

President Bush believes health care needs to be reformed... his way (http://www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2006/healthcare/index.html#section2). But his way relies on us, the American people, being able to afford health care in the first place. It doesn't take into account that people actually do earn only enough money to get by and that, no matter how many tax breaks we give to bug corporations; and no matter how many bills Congress passes to aid the health insurance industry, these people will still not be able to afford health care at all.

Believe it or not, all medical expenses are not even tax deductible, unless you or your loved one has a catastrophic illness which required you to pay an excessive amount of money out of your own pocket. Even if you pay for your own health care insurance, whether you have a private business or you somehow can get enough money together to afford a private policy for you and your family, until you hit some random money-out-of-pocket mark, your hard earned dollars aren't even going to count against your tax return. And at the very same time, President Bush is attempting to turn his "base" of the "haves and have mores" into the "haves even mores" by eliminating the small percentage of their incomes on Capital Gains, which they pay a fraction of tax on as compared to our - the working class' - real earned income - the one which forces us to go our every day and work for.

And let's face it, even if many of us would get a nice tax break at the end of the year for our health care costs, we wouldn't have the money to lay out to the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies for our treatments. Some would use credit cards and have to pay interest at high percentages for these services.

President Bush, a man who has never had to choose between medicine or food; seeing a doctor or paying the rent; or any other such events, will have us all believe that the single best way - the absolute answer - to all of America's health care woes is to keep health care insurance companies in the picture. The fact that they have their share holders as their first concern should be of concern to us all. The patients come last and, in many cases, have to fight just to get them to allow for their health care.

Here's some food for thought: If a sick child dies, even though his family has health care coverage, and the health care insurance company decides that the treatment is "experimental", or that it isn't covered, or that the illness was a "pre-existing condition", or any one of a number of other reasons they'll use to make sure that this child doesn't live long enough to fight for their right to live, the insurance company doesn't even lose a customer. After all, the family still needs to keep their health care coverage just in case someone else in the family does get sick. And the parent whose job provides the health care insurance through a group plan (even though the worker is probably paying for as much as half, or more, of it through "employee participation") isn't going to quit their job either. So the insurance company not only denied a benefit that might have saved the child's life, but they're still collecting the premium from those he left behind.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

The health care insurers have it better than the cigarette companies. When one of the latter's customers dies, they have to have a cartoon camel try and lure new, younger smokers to take their place. The health care insurers need no such cartoon figure to get more customers. They have us by the "short hairs".

"Because third parties such as insurance companies, employers, and government finance the vast majority of health care spending, most Americans do not know and do not have access to information about the cost of health care services before they decide whether or not to receive those services."
-The White House web site, www.whitehouse.gov

Really now (I say sarcastically). Too bad that your very own number belie that statement.

"Americans spend an increasing share of their income on health care. Health care spending in America has increased from 5 percent of GDP in 1960 to 16 percent in 2004, and is expected to increase to 18.7 percent in 2014. Insurance competition from HMOs and other types of managed care plans temporarily slowed the increase in spending during the 1990s, but since then, spending has continued to climb at a rate several times faster than either personal income or inflation. In recent years, insurance premiums have risen at double-digit rates."

If GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the defining arbiter of our economy, then how is it that the Bushies think that spending five percent versus almost 19 percent of our money on health care doesn't affect us? When a family's share of health care costs rise from five to 19 percent, just whose pocketbook does that come from. The health care industry and the bush administration would like us to think that all of these costs are carried by the US taxpayer and the US employer. But when profits are lowered and employer sees a rise in the amount it costs him to insure his employees, their spouses and their children, who do you think he's going to go to? The insurance company isn't going to offer them a discount; and shopping around for a different company just brings you to the conclusion that all of their prices are just about the same. No, the employer is going to go back to the employee and say to him, "Hey, I can't afford your health care any more. You're going to have to pay more."

Even after the rates for premiums increase, the health care industry doesn't have enough. They lower the amounts they pay to doctors and call it Orwellian terms like "usual and customary"; they make you pay a deductible when you bring your child to the emergency room, whether you have the fifty dollars (or more) or not; they raise the "out of pocket" , or "off the top" expense, as I like to call it, so if you have to spend a day or two, or any length of time in the hospital, you're paying for those first few days "out of YOUR pocket". Some policies don't pay anything until you hit the $1,500 mark. Some even more!

And what is the Bushies plan to fix health care you may ask (go on, ask). Health Savings Accounts! How are we going to afford to save money for these plans when we can't afford the medicine now? How are we going to save money for our future when we get sick today? maybe President Bush believes the same as the insurance companies believe: That a sick person ought to get better on their own or die already.

Maybe the health care insurers see the hand-writing on the wall. Hopefully it's really there. The goal has to be a Single Payer Universal health Care system similar to Canada's or any one of the other Western nations. We are the only one who doesn't tae care of our sick and if the Bushies have their way, nothing will change unless it makes more money for those already charging us insane amounts for coverage. Maybe they think this is their last chance to take our money before we institute a system similar to Social Security which puts back more than 98 cents on every dollar to their beneficiaries. At up to forty percent profits which the health care industry brags they "earn" to their shareholders, imagine what it would be like if they also controlled the Social Security system? Sends a chill up and down your spine, doesn't it?

Remember to tell you friends who think they have good health care coverage that they are merely one illness away from testing that. Remember to point to the 48 million Americans who have no right to see a doctor when they are sick. Remember to point out to them that we are actually paying for the health care of the very poor and the very rich pay much less as a percentage of their income than we do. And then remember to tell them that this administration thinks that's just fine.

Then ask them if they would want to pay less than the 18.7 percent of their incomes on health care that they do now and listen.

-Noah Greenberg

President Nancy

Noah: I have just spent a most productive bit of time! I watched television today as Charlie Rose interviewed Nancy Pelosi. Her eloquence, her grace in dealing with the stupid questions and interruptions by Charlie, and her "take" on the causes of, and solutions to, our current national crisis, gave me a sudden inspiration. All we need to do now is to impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office, automatically elevating Nancy from speaker to chief of the executive branch. Her vision will then, in my opinion, clearly show us the way out of the wilderness created for us by the Bush administration.

-Carroll S. Rankin

The New York Times and the Abuse of Executive Privilege

I would appreciate the New York Times indignant July 1 editorial -- on Bush's mendacious claims of "executive privilege" -- a whole lot more if the Times hadn't for six years been a major player in kowtowing to Bush's and Cheney's every last little whim, tantrum, lie, and cover-up of scandal and crime. The Times has helped convince the waverers in Congress and most Americans into "CAPITULATION" (their word) -- i.e., lying down to be trampled on and robbed by the most corrupt and oppressive administration in our country's history! This newspaper has played a leading part, perhaps THE leading part, in the well-documented NeoCon takeover of our formerly-respectable American mass media. "All the News That's Fit To Print" became "All the News That Fits Our Board Room's Right-Wing Bias."

Surely some of the Times employees knew better, but word came down from the Board Room, and the editors and staff writers CAPITULATED -- some of them eagerly, as we know from the Plame scandal. Paychecks, association with Beltway Big Wheels, TV talk shows and fame counted for more than truth. Even today some NYT editorials still read like slightly less potty Sean Hannity rants. The news section still, without making hilariously ironic commentary, publishes propaganda baloney from the White House (such as Bush's "Al Qaeda" fixation, which has become as perniciously unreal as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"!), and these hypocrites continue to hide news of the Iraq Vets Against the War, mass antiwar rallies, pro-impeachment demonstrations, the healthcare crisis, the Bush-Cheney-Iraq War's nose-diving poll statistics, and DENNIS KUCINICH's very name, on back pages!

Now this newspaper dons a halo of self-righteousness? Too little, too late! I can't forget or forgive that these editorial pages brown-nosed and boot-licked the NeoCons for years, led the other major news media along that sordid path, and that the paper still apparently has no clue about its own responsibility in destroying and discrediting U.S. journalism. Thirteen letters-to-the-editor by our Mo are wonderful, but not enough. Not nearly enough. Until it sends carloads of eager, young, unknown investigative journalists out around the country, doing Woodstein-style snooping and reportage, and fires the lazy Beltway propagandists (pseudo- or former-journalists) who spend their time soaking up flattery from the president's press secretary, the New York Times -- once-respected and eagerly read -- will have lost its usefulness. Except as emergency toilet paper.

-Jenny Hanniver


A tragic flood this morning destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. The flood began in the presidential bathroom where both of his books
were kept. Both of the books have been lost. A presidential spokesperson said the President was devastated, as he
had almost finished coloring the second one. The White House tried to call FEMA, but there was no answer.

A "full-time" employee at 34 hours per week, making the Wal-Mart average wage of $10.51 per hour, will earn $18,582 per year. The federal government's definition of poverty for a family of four in the contiguous United States is $20,650. [http://www.walmartfacts.com; 2007 HHS Poverty Guidelines, http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/07poverty.shtml]

-Sean (Mr. Bluesky)

In response to "One Sick Child", Victoria Brownworth writes:

If you regularly watched Extreme Makeover, you would know that this is but one of many similar stories in the show which has re-made at least seven houses for parents (some single parents) with sick, disabled and dying children who can't get their medical bills taken care of ad can't provide suitable housing for their sick and dying kids because al their money is going to medical care. There was also the case of the Iraqi war vet who was paralyzed from the war and his disabled son. Thank goodness the folks at ABC are taking care of these people, because the federal government could not care less. How terrible a nation have we become when we leave the care of our most vulnerable to the whim of a TV show, rather than our wealthy government?

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-Noah Greenberg